Should the Carolina Panthers consider calling free-agent running back Kenyan rake to boost their backup options behind Christian McCaffrey in 2022?
The Carolina Panthers will be relying heavily on Christian McCaffrey once again in 2022. It’s been a frustrating spell for the All-Pro running back of late, but all signs point to a potential bounce-back campaign next time around providing there are no further complications.
Behind McCaffrey, things are less certain. D’Onta Foreman should be the primary backup after joining in free agency from the Tennessee Titans, but three concerning drops in the passing game from Chuba Hubbard against the Buffalo Bills could see the Panthers explore alternative options before week 1 arrives.
One notable name on the market with a wealth of experience is Kenyan Drake. The Las Vegas Raiders decided to part ways with the veteran during the second round of cuts, which was something of a surprise considering his overall ability and proven production.
Drake is an explosive receiving back out of the backfield. Having the former Alabama standout and McCaffrey on the field at the same time would cause matchup problems for defenses given their dual-threat ability.
Foreman is more of a power back that will complement McCaffrey on third down and in-between the tackles. But there’s nothing to suggest Drake couldn’t be next in line if the Stanford product goes down.
He is also a more reliable pass catcher out of the backfield than Hubbard, who struggled last year in the passing game and the preseason.
Now that Drake has cleared waivers, the Panthers might take a look if they feel it can benefit the franchise. The move is also unlikely to cost all that much from a financial standpoint.
Options at the running back position are always welcomed as McCaffrey has dealt with health problems, restricting him to just 10 appearances over the last two years. If general manager Scott Fitterer wants to bring in another insurance policy, Drake should be among the top names on his list of potential targets.
Drake has gone over 1,000 all-purpose yards three times in his career. His move to the Raiders didn’t go according to plan, but the Panthers wouldn’t ask him to do all that much in this scenario providing McCaffrey remains on the field consistently behind a much superior offensive line.
No team can ever have too many weapons. The NFL has also quickly become an offensive-minded league that makes firepower in all areas essential.
Drake would be able to run east and west, adding the ability to catch out of the backfield or line him up in the slot. This could give new quarterback Baker Mayfield another dependable security blanket during a make-or-break campaign.
Carolina might be happy with what they have for now. But one thing is for sure, Fitterer will not hesitate to make a move if the situation dictates.